July 25, 2021

We’re watching you: Drones to patrol Wicklow’s uplands in bid to control wild fires

Authorities are set to deploy drones in an effort to prevent wild fires and catch those setting them in the  Wicklow uplands this summer.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and Coillte have said the “state-of-the-art technology” will see the drones become “firefighters’ eyes in the skies”.

The plan will be put into action in Wicklow, Dublin and the midland areas that are prone to burning during warm months.

“As well as having severe localised impact on flora and fauna, setting fires during this time of a national public health emergency is particularly reckless as it places unnecessary additional pressures on our emergency services whose services are critical to managing the Covid-19 pandemic,” Minister for Heritage Josepha Madigan told the Irish Times.

Ms Madigan urged the public, landowners and farmers “to act responsibly at all times, to be mindful of their own safety and the safety of others, to be mindful of the need to protect property, both publicly owned and privately owned, and to appreciate the value of our natural heritage, particularly in our National Parks, Nature Reserves and designated lands”.

NPWS’s Wesley Atkinson added that caused “ huge environmental damage to protected habitats and wildlife. The drones will help us to establish fire outbreaks and keep wild fires from spreading.”

Deborah Meghen of Coillte added: “Last year we used this technology for forest fire protection, which resulted in a significant reduction in forest fires with just over 50 reported, down from 150 in 2018.

“This represents a very good year in terms of forest damage with only 25 hectares affected, compared with over 600 hectares damaged in 2018.”


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